Former rally champ's wildlife fears
STOKERS Siding natural therapist Carolyn Boniface spent years chalking up car rally championships in a racing career that has left her convinced wildlife conservation and car rallying do not go together.
On the day that Repco Rally Australia organisers released their ecological report on the planned world championship car rally on rural roads in the Tweed and Kyogle Shires, Ms Boniface yesterday spoke out against what she believes will be inevitable wildlife road kill.
She predicts serious rally competitors will arrive a month before the event on September 3 to 6 and begin night-time practise runs, often involving high speed, to get to know each stage of the route.
She warned that would lead to an unavoidable impact on native creatures starting to become more active in the early spring.
“That's going to be something no- body can avoid,” said the former European rally driver who won a number of women's division championships as an official driver and as part of the manufacturer's team for car makers such as BMW and Alfa Romeo.
Ms Boniface drove rally and race cars professionally from 1984 until the early 90's in a fast-moving career that demanded peak fitness and led her into her current work as a natural therapist.
She said drivers competing in the planned Repco Rally would include those with manufacturers' teams and other serious competitors account- able to sponsors who provide enorm- ous amounts of funding.
“I certainly have experience knowing what rally drivers are going to do,” she said. “Because people are accountable to the sponsors, you have to be the fastest one on the stage without putting your car in a ditch.
“For a world event we used to show up a month before and start working the stages.
“You have to know how your car is going to behave on the day of the race.
“We would go through stages at night with really, really bright lights - because only at night time you don't have the public on the roads.
“I'm not concerned about the public because the drivers are really good; they have a sixth sense.
“But a sixth sense won't save the wildlife.”
Ms Boniface said even in Europe some residents along affected roads became extremely upset, and predicted the practising drivers would also “get on the nerves” of residents here.
“There are going to people who really like the rally and I can relate to that,” she said.
“But having been a rally driver, I can tell you I would not like to be living on a stage.”